When Sarah was a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova, her host grandmother taught her how to make them by hand, and Sarah has since taught her parents, sister, and me how to make them. It can take a couple hours to make a large batch to freeze, which leads to great family time and conversation. She has enjoyed being able to share this tradition both in Moldova and the U.S. and loves the fact that our three-year-old son, Charlie, really likes them and requests them regularly for supper.
Jon Radermacher City Administrator City of Little Falls
Dough: 3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (can substitute up to about 1/4 with sifted wheat flour) 1 scant teaspoon salt 1 large egg 1 cup cold water
(This may need to be doubled but see first how far you can get with one batch before making a second.)
In the Reci-Piece dish with a dollop of sour cream
Boiling the pelmeni
Filling: 3/4 pound ground beef 1/2 pound ground pork (in Moldova Sarah used 100% ground pork) 1 large onion finely chopped Garlic (minced 2 tsp), salt (at least 1 tsp), pepper (1 tsp), and dill weed or parsley to taste. Pelmeni should be well seasoned.
To make the dough, sift flour and salt. Make a small well in the flour into which you will add the egg. Gently beat the egg with your hand, a fork, or a spoon to break up the yolk. Add water a little at a time and mix in well to the flour until you have a cohesive ball of dough. You may not need all of the water. Knead on a floured surface until smooth. Cover with a linen or cotton (not terry cloth) kitchen towel and let stand (ideally 30 mins).
For the filling, combine all of the filling ingredients until thoroughly mixed. It works best to mix by hand.
Sarah uses her host grandmother’s method of rolling out individual 2-inch circles of dough which is hard to describe in writing. Alternatively, on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out half of the dough at a time into a thin sheet (1/8-1/16 inch thick), making sure it doesn’t tear. With a round cookie cutter, cut out 2-inch circles.
Place a scant teaspoon of filling toward the bottom of one circle. Fold the empty half of the dough over the filling to form a semi-circle. Tightly pinch the edges together and then bring the ends of the semi-circle together and pinch them together.
Arrange the pelmeni on a lightly-floured baking sheet being careful that they don’t touch or they will stick together. Freeze until completely frozen and then they can be transferred to a plastic bag or freezer-safe container.
To cook pelmeni, bring salted water to a boil. Drop in desired amount of pelmeni and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until they rise to the surface, about 8 minutes.
Pelmeni are traditionally served with butter, sour cream, cider or white vinegar, or dill. Or all of the above! A combo of sour cream and vinegar is the preference in our family.